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Is there anything we can do to help our aging brains work better-and keep them fit? Can computer memory workouts buff our cranial organs? And what does former tennis star Billie Jean King have to say about aging well?
First Robert Lipsyte goes on location to test his brain gym skills against younger competitors. Then he sits down in the studio with the experts to separate the facts from the hype.
And it's definitely an A-list panel: UCLA's Dr. Gary Small, author of The Memory Bible; University of Texas's Dr. Denise Park; and Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, the chief of biological psychiatry at the Duke University Medical Center and co-author of The Alzheimer's Action Plan. All agree that learning something new, while intensely focusing, helps stimulate existing neural pathways-the places in the brain where knowledge is stored. It also sparks new connections between nerves (known as synapses). The experts go on to explain that stress has a negative impact on memory, while physical exercise has important benefits. "Walking 15 minutes a day lowers your risk for Alzheimer's," Dr. Small says. If you have nagging questions about your aging brain-you'll get plenty of answers here.
Next, Lipsyte sits down with his old friend, sports legend Billie Jean King, who reminds us that "getting old is not for sissies." King describes her surprising friendship with her "battle of the sexes" opponent Bobby Riggs; the pleasures of mentoring younger players; the evolution of her own sexuality; and the newfound closeness she's found with her own aging mother.
Then Nelson DeMille, author of best-sellers like The Gold Coast and Plum Island, riffs on the surprising pleasures of turning 65-which, in his case, means being free to speak his mind and enjoy life with grace, humor, and a little Parmesan cheese.